McColl’s sells newsagents; Whitbread expands

McCollTue: In a reflection of slowing newspaper sales, McColl’s today said it plans to sell about 100 newsagents as it focuses on its convenience store business.

The group has reviewed its 1,346 outlets and said the assets being offloaded would be sold for no less than their asset value. Their closure is expected to be earnings neutral in 2016.

It added that it would “continue to run profitable newsagents and convert these to convenience format where appropriate”.

McColl’s chief executive, James Lancaster, said the 100 stores, which make up almost 8% of its portfolio, are no longer part of the retailer’s long-term strategy. The firm, which floated in February 2014, will use funds raised to invest in profitable convenience stores.

“We have continued to make good progress on enhancing our offering and capturing growth in the convenience market,” said Mr Lancaster.

“As we continue to grow our convenience store estate we constantly review our wider store portfolio, and from this we have identified 100 newsagents which no longer align to our strategic objectives.”

Whitbread, Britain’s biggest hotel and coffee shop operator, said underlying pre-tax profit rose 13.8% to £291.3 million in the six months to 27 August 27 on an 11.3% rise in turnover to £1.43 billion.

This follows growth of 12.6% and 16.2% at Premier Inn and Costa Coffee respectively. It says it is on course to create 15,000 jobs over five years.

Wood Group has been awarded a  $31 million contract by Carbon Creek Energy on its coalbed methane asset in the Powder River basin in Wyoming.

The FTSE 100 ended 0.1% lower at 6,345.13 points

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